One day and one year ago I got a stroke. I was 45 then and not in the risk zone at all, I thought so at least. I had never read anything about heart deceases as it was nothing that would ever affect me. Now I know that this can happen, anyone, any time.
I was working very hard those days and my stress levels were skyrocketing. But everyone around me was stressed out as well and nearly everyone hated their jobs. It was a kind of trend around me - to be a bit miserable.
One grey Monday, I received a disastrous announcement from my partners in Switzerland. I knew that something was about to happen, but the news devastated me never the less.
I went home earlier and took a walk. The weather was even more depressing. Back at home, I got a stroke. Alone, with the door locked and not able to dial or remember the emergency number. Forty-five minutes later I managed to call an ambulance even though I still couldn't talk properly. I got lucky. They saved me.
Photo: Back at the gym one week later...
I recovered within hours and doctors thought that it might have been TIA (transient ischaemic attack) and not a stroke after all. All my blood results were perfect, but the CT scan showed a small brain damage that could only be caused by a stroke. There was no explanation for all of this, and further investigation was necessary.
I was in absolute denial, the morning after I started working from the hospital. Organizing deliveries and apologizing for delays. I don't even know what I feel when I look back at that situation. Is this what the reality of a small business owner should look like? What does this enormous pressure do to us?
Diagnosis And Spiritual Awakening
Two days later all the tests were done and I could return to madness a.k.a life. I was strongly advised not to do any heavy lifting, but that was my job. I carried the boxes and cried at the same time. I didn't have any other choice. It felt like my life and business were falling apart. At the same time, I was so thankful to be alive. I was confused, scared, grateful, devastated. I understood that things have to change. I finally saw my life for what it was. Was it a LIFE at all?
I had nowhere to hide anymore. I had to accept my diagnosis and my reality. I had to find the inner strength to fight my fears, alone. I had to make a change no matter what. My other option was falling apart and maybe never coming back.
The countless doctor's appointments were draining. I started having panic attacks, insomnia, depression, anxiety. I tried to get help wherever I could, but it was not easy because the biggest struggle was inside of my head. Close-to-death experience had changed me. Part of me wished I could return, but the other part wanted to face the issues and grow.
Photo: Instagram post I created at the hospital the day after stroke
Not surprisingly, I discovered how much every kind of human contact meant to me. Modern people tend to disappear when facing uncomfortable situations. But I got lucky again. One of my dear friends became my accountability partner. I was texting each morning and letting her know that I'm still alive. It might sound silly, but it felt fantastic that somebody cared. And I also had this amazing community that I was/am a member of, support from the group truly saved my life.
My diagnosis was PFO (patent foramen ovale), which is a little hole in the heart and it can/should be fixed if it's causing problems. In my case, it caused not only stroke but also migraines with an aura that I was experiencing during my whole life.
So great news at first, but my fear of surgery kept on increasing every week. Being awake during the surgery was scary. And the possible complications were not walk in the park either. I had to return time after time to the same hospital where my husband died in cancer seven years ago. I think the memories were playing tricks with my brain.
While waiting for the surgery, I decided to change my life completely. I sold my flat, reorganized my company and decided to try living in Spain where my children were at the time. I didn't care about the financial losses. What does money mean when you are struggling through life without happiness and appreciation? I just wanted to feel how it is to be energized and inspired again. I was ready to do whatever it took and surrender completely. There is no price tag for a new life.
We all have heard that stress kills. And it is true in so many ways. First of all, it makes us less happy and present. It can lead to countless conditions, like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, etc.
And even if I heard from my doctors that stress had nothing to do with my condition, I'm sure it had. My body didn't function properly anymore. And only I know how it felt that grey Monday morning when the bad news came. Something broke inside of me. As if I had passed some invisible border of how much more shit I could take.
So my ONLY option from now on is to avoid stress and to be kind to myself. I'm still recovering and healing from the exhaustion that I've been living with for so long. But I'm working only online and that gives me the possibility to do things when I'm strong enough. And btw - my heart is fixed now! Everything went very well even though the surgery was scary:)
Photo: Christmas 2019
Be kind to yourself and remember to enjoy your time on this planet ❤️